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Miele swamp odor

12 years ago

I hope someone on here can help me get to the bottom of a mysterious swamp-like smell in my Miele dishwashers. We have two Miele Optimas. Seemingly completely randomly one or both develop a swampy smell after the cycle is complete. Having heard that dishwashing liquids/gels/powders are designed to work with food on the plates we always make sure that there is something in the dishwasher cycle that can be "digested." Doesn't work. It sometimes seems like the smell develops if we leave the door closed after the cycle is finished but sometimes the smell is there just after the cycle ends. Totally mysterious. It really ruins the nose on wine when you put your nose to the glass and it smells like swamp!

Any hints? We renovated the kitchen and replaced an old Kitchen-aid that never had this problem.

Comments (34)

  • fairegold

    Only dishwasher detergents made with enzymes are meant to work on foods. As of now, there is one gel formula that contains enzymes, and no liquid detergents. The recommended detergents (from Consumer Reports testing) are all powders with the exception of the (Cascade? Can't recall the brand) one gel.

    So do not assume that "dishwashing liquids/gels/powders are designed to work with food on the plates" applies to all formulations. You have to read the labels. If you see bleach listed, that's not an enzyme detergent----the two formulas are incompatible.

    But I doubt that is the cause of your problem. Most people scrape their dishes pretty well, but do not pre-rinse at the sink.

    With other brands of dishwashers, installation errors can sometimes cause odors. Did you check your filter? Do you run the disposal in your sink often enough?

  • jamesk

    Have you cleaned the filter in the bottom of your dishwashers? Most small bits of food debris are sluiced out of the filters as the machines drain. However, if there are accumulated particles that are too large to readily sluice may have a problem with odors.

    Simply remove the filter and rinse it under the faucet in the kitchen sink. It only takes about 30 seconds.

    As mentioned above, be sure you are using an enzyme based formula dishwasher detergent. Read the label. They don't always list "enzymes" as an ingredient (they sometimes utilize euphymisms like "food dissolving agents") , but if you see the word clorine in the list of active ingredients, it's not an enzyme based detergent. Chlorine and enzymes are incompatible. You should not use a chlorine based detergent in a Miele dishwasher.

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  • marikaolson_yahoo_com

    i am having the same problem with my miele!!! it is driving me nuts. i use cascade powder detergent, and i put baking soda in the load too sometimes. nothing works. and my dishes smell horrible! any idea what's wrong? bad installation? i have tried cleaning the filter and it doesn't help. thank you!!!

  • jamesk


    Which Cascade formulation are you using? The most widely available Cascade formulas are chlorine based. Read the label. If you see the word chlorine in the active ingredients, stop using it and switch to one of the enzyme based formulations. I use Electrosol 3-in-1 tabs, an enzyme based detergent. I have never had a problem with odors.

    Also, if you're not using it, a rinse agent is required in Miele dishwashers (and almost all other modern dishwashers). Jet Dry is the most commonly available, and works very well. If you're not using a rinse agent -- you must.

  • sshrivastava

    Cascade Complete, with or without bleach, in gel and powder formulations contains enzymes. Ditto for the new Cascade Complete w/ HydroClean Bleach.

  • jamesk

    If a dishwasher detergent contains CHLORINE, it doesn't include enzymes. The two are incompatible. The critical word is chlorine -- not bleach. I don't know what HydroClean Bleach might be. Perhaps some sort of oxygen bleach...who knows? Why would you want to bleach your dishes anyway?

    Miele specifically recommends against using detergents containing chlorine.

    If you see the word CHLORINE anywhere in the list of active ingredients, the detergent isn't an enzyme based detergent and should be avoided.

  • weissman

    With enzyme detergents you're still supposed to scrape the plates, just not rinse them. Is it possible you're leaving too much food on the plates and it's accumulating in the filter?

  • sshrivastava

    I believe Cascade's "HydroClean Bleach" is some oxygenated non-chlorinated formulation as the product contains enzymes as well. It's a wonderful product.

    Most "green" dishwasher detergents also contain oxygenated bleaches in the form of sodium percarbonate. Why would you want to bleach your dishes? It comes in handy when you cook with curry (turmeric and other spices), tomato sauce, or other ingredients that are notorious for staining plastics and other items. It's also great for stubborn coffee and tea stains.

  • wineguy_2007

    I'm glad I'm not the only one with this problem--thought I was going wacko. I've had a Miele G891 SCI Premiere for a few years now. Same problem--random swampiness, sometimes subtle, sometimes strong enough to make me run it through again. I HATE drinking smelly water or wine from my glassware.

    Against the dealer's recommendation, we have always scraped AND rinsed our dishes, so food bits should not be the problem (I check and rinse the metal filter, but there are rarely any food particles there, though there is usually a small bit of standing water--should the filter receptacle be dry between washes?

    We use Seventh Generation "free & clear" powder detergent from Whole Foods (we're California folks)--no chlorine, and says it has "non-animal derived enzymes".

    For a long time, we never used Jet Dry. My wife is anti-chemicals (CA again). It was pretty swampy. We moved out for a full remodel and the machine at the apartment (an old jalopy) worked far better (had a heating element).

    We didn't realize that this machine has no heating element--European vs American thing, I was told. Then someone told us that you HAVE to use Jet Dry in these machines and plenty of it if you want to avoid the swamp smell.

    So we do now, but the bottle says you get 80 washloads, and we go through it in about half that--if not, then the swamp thing comes back. Maybe I'm going crazy over this, but I even think that it is swampy sometimes when I DO use Jet Dry--hard to tell since it is impossible to tell when the Jet Dry receptacle is empty (or is it?).

    Anyhow, I'm ready to sell this baby and buy an American machine that dries the dishes with heat and then I won't have to fight with my wife (over this) any more.

    Seems sad--I really like the machine otherwise.

    Any way to save my washer/wife relationship?

  • cat_mom

    3 suggestions:

    1)continue to use Jet Dry
    2)do not rinse your dishes. If there are enzymes in your DW detergent, they will build up inside your DW if you don't give them something else to work on (aka--dirty dishes)
    3)try Miele DW tablets; for some reason, the DW smells fresher after running a load with a tab vs using Cascade Complete for example. No scent, just a fresher air smell.

    Hope these ideas help solve your problem!

  • jerrod6

    I have had Miele DW for about 11 years and have never had swamp odor but I not sure if the lack of a heated dry is creating the odor.

    I would always scrape your dishes but not rinse them.

    DW are designed with the thought that you would not be using manaul effort to clean things. With that in mind they are designed so that hot water, water force, time and appropriate chemicals take the place of hand power.

    I would stop using low chemical DW detergents and use something really designed with a DW in mind and not the environment. I have excellent results with Electrasol tabs, Miele tabs, Cascade 2n1 action pacs with bleach, Cascade complete. I know your wife is anti chemical but try one of these name brand detergents for a while and see if there is any difference. Natural enzymes are killed in hot water environments.

    Continue to use your rinseAid. Do you have a rinseAid setting on your dispenser if so what is the setting?

    What Cycles are you using on your DW?
    What does living in CA have to do with this?

  • hest88

    Hm, interesting. So our Diamante was installed earlier this week and I noticed a weird off-smell from it when I got close. I assumed it was like that "new car smell" only smelly and not industrial. We just ran our first cycle (with Miele tabs, Miele rinse aid--which I was having such trouble pouring!), at Normal, with a pretty small load, and there's still that smell. Hopefully it's not the same swampy smell and really is a new appliance smell.

  • sharon_s

    I've never had a swampy smell in any of my Mieles. I have to wonder if this is an installation issue--drain pipe not placed/pitched properly, so water doesn't fully drain out of the dishwasher.

    Xtenson, I think it would be worth a call to Miele--especially since you have 2 dishwashers doing the same thing.

  • jerrod6


    If you smelled it when you got close and the machine had never been is the smell of something new..probably the smell of the inside racks and packing materials.

  • antss

    wineguy - mieles do have a heater, you just can't see it. It is in teh pipe/ pump secion instead of the tub bottom. There is an indicator light on the Mieles to tell you when the rinse aid is empty. It should be a red light on your model, near the drain indicator.

    "Against the dealer's recommendation, we have always scraped AND rinsed our dishes." You cannot complain about a product which does not prefor when you don't follow the direction set out by the manufacturer. They may be a pain and not like everybody elses, but.....You may decide that the product is not suitable for your needs or lifestyle, but you can't simply make the thing conform to you.

    Rinse aid dosage on the Miele can set to very little or a lot, this will affect the # of loads you get form a bottle of Jet Dry. Also, when have you ever experienced results touted by the sales weasels and marketing guys to reflect REAL WORLD results??????

    Check the filters and the drain line like suggested. You may also try one of the cleaning products for DWs on the market to help rid after the drain and filters are checked. FYI many of the newer American DWs are going away from a heated dry also.

  • jerrod6


    Regarding detergents. I looked at the DW detergent at the Seventh Generation web site. It seems like they had some trouble making it natural and now have removed that claim because they need to use a non toxic petroleum based polymer...whatever...anyway they are still trying but not yet there. Isn't petroleum natural?... anyway..

    Many detergents don't have chlorine in them anymore...they can't if they contain enzymes. In my other post I mentioned Miele tabs, and now I remember that the company that makes them(company in Austria) has received some type of environmental award from their government for making environmentally safe products using safe processes, so this may be something for you to consider since environmental regulations may be stricter in Europe than here in the the U.S.A.

    The Miele tabs leave no smell on your dishes or in the DW , don't cloud the water, and actually don't have any odor at all. They also dissolve in cool water and start working. You can also break them in half if you have a smaller load. Some folks on this forum only use 1/2 for a full load. I am lazy and just toss a whole one in.

    They also have a rinse aid that is as clear as water and this is something that might help in your search for friendly environmental products.

    The tabs clean and shine very well. You can order them online from Miele.

  • PRO
    Joe Henderson

    I would tell you to definitely check out the drain line...american machines are a simple drain line install

    euro machines require looping and proper pitch to drain, if you don't do it correctly it might get the water out of the machine but leave build up in the drain piping causing an intermittent odor

  • jerrod6

    "looping and proper pitch" Hmm I have a Miele and there is no looping invovled. In fact the drain line runs straight down through the floor into the basement and then connects to another line on the way out of the house, but then the line is not connected to a GD either so maybe that is it.

  • antss

    jerrod - that drain config is possible with a Miele. The prior generation required a nipple t be cut in the filter area for it to work right. i think the new generation has a provision, but I can't recall off the top of my head.

    Also the "high loop" is not required with a Miele - they have check valves in the drains ( which is why an air gap is not required), but it is good practice none the less.

  • jerrod6

    Thanks for that info antss

  • hest88

    Bringing this back up because it's been something like two weeks since installation and the smell is still there after running the DW maybe 1/2 a dozen times. I've been trying to figure out if it's a *normal* smell---that I'm just not used to the combo of the Miele tabs, Miele rinse aid, and the normal smell the Miele generates when operating, but I still find it rather yucky especially on my dishware. My DH says it's like bong water but since I have no idea what bong water smells like I still don't know how normal or abnormal it is! Longtime Miele DW users, what does your DW smell like?

  • Cyberspacer

    Could be too much soap use and cycles not hot enough. I would run a HOT cycle like POTS and PANS (with no dishes). In the middle of the cycle I would introduce about 1/8 cup of chlorine bleach. This should kill any possible growths causing the stench.

    I would then run the machine again with no additives for it to rinse away the chlorine properly again using a hot cycle (sani is another option).

  • jerrod6


    I really don't have any experience with this swamp odor smell, but sometimes items have that newness smell that fades over time. I wouldn't call that a bong odor smell though.

    I use Miele tabs, and rinse aid. There is no smell to these at all. If you sniff each product there is very little if any odor to them at all. If you open the door while the DW is using them...there is no smell at I am not sure the products would cause any odor.
    I also use ElectraSol tabs and Electrasol powder(containing a bit of chlorine bleach) and still no odor.

    The only time I have encountered any odor is if I put the dishes in the DW and let them sit 2 or 3 days without a the door then there is some odor..but it goes away after the cycle has been completed.

    What cycles have you been using on your DW?
    What type of counter top do you have?

  • hest88

    Thanks Cyber; I'll try running the P&P with some bleach.

    Jerrod, I've been using the Normal cycle, though I used the P&P once when I had some caked on stuff. I have granite countertops, but the smell is definitely from inside the DW and not from the outside. I've cleaned the filter and even scooped out the water underneath the filter once, but I understand water there is normal (?).

  • weedmeister

    I don't have a Miele.

    It would seem to me that some standing water in the bottom is normal.

    So, could this 'swamp' smell be sewer gas? Considering that there is no air gap and no 'loop' in the drain and it may be directly connected to the house drain without a trap of some sort?

  • jerrod6

    I am really fascinated by this problem.

    If anyone would have swamp smell from sewer gas it would be me, since my DW drain hose goes driectly down through the floor and is connected to it's own pipe that then merges to the main line, but I have never had this smell.

    Standing water in the bottom is normal and has never created any problem for me.

    So hest88 is this still the same smell you noticed when you got near the machine after it was installed, but before you used it?

  • hest88

    Thanks Weed. We actually have it running to an airgap. (Darned California codes!)

    Jerrod, yep, same smell. It had been tested by the installer, but hadn't run a full cycle. I keep hoping it will go away, but so far it's still smelly and leaves the dishes with the same smell. I'm really hoping it's just something that needs to be cleaned out a bit and that after a few more cycles will be completely gone!

  • antss

    Miele DW's don't need and airgap, they have a one way check valve in the drain system that prevents backflow. This is true even in Calif. You have simply runinto an ignorant, inexperienced, or stubborn inspector. The miele manual details the check valve which satisfies the Univ. Plumbing Code.

  • jerrod6

    I wonder if it is the newness smell of the racks?

    Miele tabs and Rinseaid have no odor and leave no noticeable smell, so maybe try using one of the heavy scented Cascade powders and rinseAid while using the P&P or Sani Cycle a few times, this might knock the smell somewhat.

  • hest88

    Update: Jerrod, I really do think it's the racks I'm smelling--a weird, sickly sweet smell. The smell isn't from the bottom of sides of the DW at all. I'm going to try the bleach and maybe a heavily scented powder next.

  • jerrod6

    I asked about the racks because that was the only "smell" I noticed when my DW arrived. It's that new smell of...something.

  • loves2cook4six

    I spoke to a Miele tech today about this problem.

    He told me that too much detergent - any detergent whether is's enzyme, chlorine, powder, gel or tab - will leave a "rotten garbage" smell. He suggested using half a tab, the rinse aid ball goes out with the wash so if you do use 2-1 tabs turn the setting off, use half a tab, toss the ball and use rinse aid in the machine.

    He said a quick way to check for this is to run the shortest program without dishes or soap and open the DW in the middle of the cycle. If the water is cloudy, scummy or obviously sudsy you have detergent residue and are definitely using too much.

    Oh, and check the filter. When I called, we had a little gunk in the filter [BLUSH] AND detergent residue when I ran the short cycle on the Optima.

    Another suggestion from him was that although Miele's official policy is NOT to post on forums and such, they do have tech support available 12 hours per day at 800-843-7231 and to call if you are having a problem.

    Past experience of customer service and tech support from Mele has been FANTASTIC so I entirely agree with him on this one.

    HTHs everyone else.

  • neort

    Having just spent $189 on a service call, I hope I can help someone avoid the same cost! For three years, since we purchased the machine, I have had the same "swamp smell" ntermittently. I have asked repeatedly for answers/suggestions from Miele, but didn't receive any answers. Yesterday, the technician examined everything very closely (everything was perfect). The likeliest cause was too much detergent, which leaves a residue on the dishes, glasses and the seal which causes the dishes and glasses to smell. Someone above mentioned the same thing.

    If you look carefully in the detergent dispenser, there are three marks: 20, 25 and 30 ml (I believe). Unless you have very dirty dishes, use the smallest amount possible and set your "rinse aid" dispenser guage to one (located in the rinse aid dispenser cavity). Gradually increase the amount until you find the right mix. I'm hoping this is the answer. I have been trying it and it seems to be working.

    Interestingly enough, I also purchased some Miele detergent (@ $21 a box for 80 packages). This amount seems to actually be more than I would have used with my Cascade.

    Also, they recommend not using Electrosol. Also, try doing a "sanitizer" wash every once in a while with no soap to clean the interior of the machine of any soap scum.

    Hope this helps.

  • judypr1

    My Miele is brand new--it had the funny smell before anything went in it. I have only run it twice--using 1/2 Miele tab. Barely any food on this dishes--I was just washing what had come out of storage (and it went into storage clean!)

    Anyone with ideas?

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